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Plant J. 2006 Sep;47(5):735-50.

Transcriptome profiling uncovers metabolic and regulatory processes occurring during the transition from desiccation-sensitive to desiccation-tolerant stages in Medicago truncatula seeds.

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Unité Mixte de Recherche 1191 Physiologie Moléculaire des Semences, Université d'Angers/INH/INRA, 16 Bd Lavoisier, 49045 Angers, France.


To investigate regulatory processes and protective mechanisms leading to desiccation tolerance (DT) in seeds, 16086-element microarrays were used to monitor changes in the transcriptome of desiccation-sensitive 3-mm-long radicles of Medicago truncatula seeds at different time points during incubation in a polyethylene glycol (PEG) solution at -1.7 MPa, resulting in a gradual re-establishment of DT. Gene profiling was also performed on embryos before and after the acquisition of DT during maturation. More than 1300 genes were differentially expressed during the PEG incubation. A large number of genes involved in C metabolism are expressed during the re-establishment of DT. Quantification of C reserves confirms that lipids, starch and oligosaccharides were mobilised, coinciding with the production of sucrose during the early osmotic adjustment. Several clusters of gene profiles were identified with different time-scales. Genes expressed early during the PEG incubation belonged to classes involved in early stress and adaptation responses. Interestingly, several regulatory genes typically expressed during abiotic/drought stresses were also upregulated during maturation, arguing for the partial overlap of ABA-dependent and -independent regulatory pathways involved in both drought and DT. At later time points, in parallel to the re-establishment of DT, upregulated genes are comparable with those involved in late seed maturation. Concomitantly, a massive repression of genes belonging to numerous classes occurred, including cell cycle, biogenesis, primary and energy metabolism. The re-establishment of DT in the germinated radicles appears to concur with a partial return to the quiescent state prior to germination.

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